January 15th, 2019
This afternoon, Secretary of State Kim Wyman announced that Tim Eyman’s Initiative 976 has qualified as an initiative to the Legislature for 2019. According to Wyman’s office, 19,738 petition sheets were submitted for I-976 bearing 352,093 signatures. (The current requirement for qualification is 259,622 valid signatures; sponsors are advised to submit at least 325,000 signatures to offset duplicate and invalid signatures.)
I-976 seeks to repeal vehicle fees at the state, regional, and local levels, which would devastate funding for essential services like Amtrak Cascades (a joint service funded by the people of the States of Washington and Oregon, which provides Washington’s only rail link with Vancouver, British Columbia) and freight mobility.
I-976 also attempts to imperil Sound Transit’s voter-approved ST3 system expansion package by repealing one of ST3’s three funding sources. This could result in light rail, commuter rail, express bus, and bus rapid transit projects being reduced or scaled back.
The destruction wouldn’t stop there, I-976 further seeks to repeal the statutes that allow ferry districts and transportation benefit districts to levy vehicle fees for local projects. Sixty cities of all sizes on both sides of the Cascades currently rely on vehicle fees for projects our communities need.
Most of those cities (for example, Battle Ground) use their vehicle fee revenue to fund road maintenance and street improvements. Seattle, the state’s largest city, uses its voter-approved fee revenue to fund King County Metro service hours that are helping riders cope with the current closure of State Route 99 through the city’s downtown core.
Northwest Progressive Institute Founder and Executive Director Andrew Villeneuve — who has seventeen years of experience organizing opposition to Eyman initiatives — issued the following statement in response to the announcement that I-976 has qualified as an initiative to the Legislature for 2019.
“Tim Eyman’s I-976 is a recipe for horrific highway gridlock, derelict roads, and stranded travelers,” said Villeneuve. “It would eliminate essential services that Washingtonians depend on, especially in rural areas, jeopardizing freedom of mobility and eliminating good paying jobs in construction and the building trades. This initiative is a wrecking ball aimed squarely at the vital multimodal transportation infrastructure we’ve been working hard to build.”
“If we don’t stop I-976, then the bipartisan progress we’ve made over the last decade and a half towards better connecting Washington will be halted and reversed. We simply cannot afford this destructive initiative.”
“Fortunately, a broad and diverse coalition is forming to give Eyman’s I-976 the vigorous opposition it deserves. We invite Washingtonians of all political affiliations who value freedom of mobility and good roads to join us in working for the defeat of I-976. Every day, we hear from more people and organizations who are gravely concerned about the impact I-976 would have, and are ready to take action to protect the essential services it seeks to harm. We’re encouraged by this response and believe that by working together, we the people of Washington can defeat I-976.”
For additional information, please visit no976.org.